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Everybody Loves Raymond - The Complete Series


TITLE: EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND - THE COMPLETE SERIES


Info:

Release Date: October 30, 2007 (HBO Home Video)
Color/1996-2005
MSRP: $279.98
Number of Discs: 44
Number of Episodes: 210
Running Time: approx. 6178 minutes
Total Running Time of Special Features: approx. 1397 minutes
Audio: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
NEW - *40-page script of the series finale autographed by all 10 of the episodes’ writers Plus the following bonus features on the season sets:
*Behind the Scenes Featurettes including interviews with the cast & crew
*The 1995 Late Show with David Letterman appearance by Ray Romano that inspired the series
*39 Audio Commentaries
*Deleted Scenes Reel
*Blooper Reel
*Museum of Television and Radio panel discussion with ELR cast and creator Phil Rosenthal
*"The First Six Years” retrospective
*Museum of Television and Radio Panel Discussion with Phil Rosenthal and writers
*The Last Laugh: Behind-the-scenes retrospective


Introduction:

Own them all here together in one complete package! It is the complete series of Everybody Loves Raymond, now on DVD! In 1995, stand-up comedian made a fairly routine appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, to do a stand-up comedy bit. Part of the routine, about Ray's family, inspired producer Phil Rosenthal to begin work on a sitcom concept based around the stand-up routine. A few drafts later, the fictional family of the Barone's was created. The show, which would later go on to be one of the top rated shows on TV, didn’t start out so well. After its first season, Everybody Loves Raymond was 84th in the total ratings. Friday at 8:30 was draining the show of what Nielsen life it had. CBS, seeing the potential of the show, placed the show between Cosby and Cybill, Monday at 8:30, for the 1997-98 season, and ratings began to shoot-up. The timeslot move gained the show a full two ratings points, and 35th overall. The show also changed a little bit -- the first season really served more as an introduction than anything else did. The second season is when the show really started to hit its stride -- before become the monster hit it became in season three. Raymond’s ratings in season 3 were good enough for 11th that year -- putting it in the ratings territory it would occupy for the remainder of its run. The show would continue on for several years, in the process spinning off the long-running series The King of Queens, and delivering an audience on a silver platter to freshman sitcom Two and a Half Men in 2003.

Aside from the addition of Amy to the family as Robert’s wife midway through the run, and the aging of the kids, the family -- and the show -- never really changed much from beginning to end. It was still, at its core, always a crazy show about a crazy family. The family featured Ray, a successful sportswriter, and husband of Debra (played by Patricia Heaton). The couple consistently deals with their young kids - a 5 year-old daughter and twin 2-year-old sons, as well as Ray's brother, Robert (Brad Garrett), and parents Frank (Peter Boyle) and Marie (Doris Roberts), who are always coming over at unexpected times or otherwise meddling in their business. Midway through the run Monica Horan would be introduced as Amy, who Robert would go on to marry in season seven.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

For this review, I’m going to do this a little different. TV.com, the much-maligned successor to the wonderful TVTome.com, allows visitors to vote their opinions on episodes of shows. For this review, I’m going to talk about the top 10 episodes as voted by the visitors to TV.com. If there is an episode you think is better, please, take it up with them. I have excluded the one-hour “Last Laugh” retrospective from the list, which as of this writing was 5th in voting. As such, the 5th through 10th place shows below were actually 6th through 11th.

#10: Robert’s Wedding: Season 7. (9.0) Robert, after all the headaches and grief that went into his relationship with Amy, finally ties the knot. As this is the Barone family, obviously there are a few speed bumps along the way.

#9: The Home: Season 9. This is the first episode from season 9. Frank and Marie return from a visit to a retirement home in New Jersey. They have a bit of a surprise for the family -- they’re going to move. Everyone, aside from Frank and Marie themselves, are overjoyed at the move. Marie and Frank ultimately go so far as to sell the house to Robert and Amy for pennies on the dollar -- a real steal. When it comes time to move, though, the VERY last person you’d expect -- Debra -- has mixed feelings about the move and doesn’t really know if she wants them to go.

#8: Debra Makes Something Good: Season 4. (9.1). One thing that could always be counted on was that Debra was an adequate cook at best (and that is being nice), and that Marie was the true chef of the family. But one day, Debra actually cooks up something *good*. Ray is shocked, to say the least. Robert and Frank are also thrilled. Marie, however, goes berserk, and soon it is all-out war!

#7: The Canister: Season 5. (9.1). Marie seems to think that Debra hasn’t returned a canister that she borrowed. Said canister has quite a bit of “sentimental value” to Marie. Debra is insistent that she already gave it back -- but lo and behold, she discovers she still has it. She drafts Robert and Ray’s help to get her out of the mess, but ultimately admits she was wrong after all.

#6: The Angry Family: Season 6. (9.1). The sixth season opener. The family is at an open-house for Michael’s first grade class. All the kids tell stories they’ve written. Everyone else’s is clearly fictional, and fairly wild. Michael’s story is also clearly wild, but more than just a little true -- it is about “The Angry Family”, a story bout a family that is *constantly* arguing about every little thing. Sound familiar? It did to Ray and the gang as well.

#5: Finale: Season 9 (9.1). This is the final episode of the series, obviously. Ray, who has been having throat problems for a while, is told he needs his adenoids removed. Debra does talk him into it, because clearly he does need them removed. They get to the hospital. Normally an adenoid removal is a fairly simple procedure -- you go in, they remove them, nothing happens, you’re home that evening. I had mine removed at the same time as my tonsils when I was *six*, and I was back home eating ice cream that night, for example. Anyway, Marie goes to the bathroom for just a minute, and while she’s gone the nurse comes out and tells the family that they’re having some problems waking Ray from the anesthesia. This causes a lot of worry -- but not 30 seconds later the doctor says that Ray is fine and that this occasionally happens. Everyone agrees, though, that it’d be a VERY bad idea to tell Ray or Marie what happened, so they don’t. Frank, however, winds up telling Marie. Marie, in an absolutely hilarious scene, runs over to the Barone house, walks in on Debra and Ray in the bedroom, and climbs all over Ray and starts smothering him with kisses. Ray finds out *why* she is doing that, and starts to panic. He snaps out of it a minute later, luckily. Show closes with the family sitting around the table, just eating and arguing, and that is the end of the series. One of my personal favorites.

#4: How They Met: Season 3 (9.2). This is an episode using extensive flashbacks to show how Ray and Debra met 15 years ago. In the present they’ve just finished preparing Ally for her first playmates with a little boy, causing them to reminisce about all sorts of things -- their first meeting, their first kiss, the first time Debra met Marie, and the first time Ray ate Debra’s cooking.

#3: Baggage: Season 7. (9.2). Debra and Ray get into a showdown over a simple little suitcase. Robert asks Ray if he can borrow a suitcase that’s just sitting there. Ray declines, saying he and Debra having been in a battle over that suitcase since a weekend trip -- the fight being over who’s supposed to put the suitcase away. Robert thinks they’re insane, but Frank and Marie understand perfectly and offer some advice.

#2: Bad Moon Rising. Season 4. (9.3). It’s Debra’s time of the month, and is even more irritable than usual. And things aren’t helped by Ray’s “help”. Ray looks at the calendar and realizes that’s up. He tries to come up with some sort of “quick fix” -- thus making his life a lot easier -- and only makes things a whole lot worse. Frank has a great line in this episode: “She's in a bad mood, what? 3 days tops? Soon, it's gonna be 5 days. Then it's a week. Then what was once a bad mood takes over and becomes her only mood! And then...well then you become like me. Where not a day goes by that I don't wish there was a comet screaming towards Earth to bring me sweet relief!”. And that’s why Frank is my favorite character.

#1: Lucky Suit. Season 6. (9.3). Robert is absolutely thrilled that he’s finally up for an FBI job. But Marie, who just cannot mind her own business when it comes to her kids -- intrudes into everything, going way too far in this episode, to the point that Robert may not be able to forgive Marie’s meddling this time. This episode fails in the description a little bit, but it is a great episode. Not only did this episode win both Brad Garrett AND Doris Roberts an Emmy award, but also it is just a great episode in general, and really displays two of the Barone characters at their absolute peaks.

Guest Stars: For this section, I’m going to repost the guest stars sections from each of my nine previous reviews. Seems like the best way to go about this.

Season 1: Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker; All in the Family) guest stars in Episode 3. NBA Great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar guests in show 6. Katherine Helmond (Jessica Tate on Soap & Mona Robinson on Who's the Boss?) appears in episodes 8 & 10. Kevin James, who would get his own show on CBS a couple of years later (The King of Queens) stops by in show 12. Baseball great and single-season home run record-holder Barry Bonds appears in episode sixteen. Two shows later, skater Katarina Witt, baseball icon Tommy Lasorda, and broadcaster Marv Albert all make guest spots. Tommy Lasorda would again appear two shows later. Skater Kristi Yamaguchi appears in episode 19, and 1997 Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard is in episode 21.

Season 2: Kevin James reprises his role as Kevin for four episodes in total. The character Kevin would later be spun-off, as The King of Queens. Other guests include, Pat O’ Brien, as well as comedian Dave Attell who guest stars in episode 29 (7), Working Late Again. Noted cartoon voiceover actress Christine Cavanaugh appears, in person, in show 34 (12), All I want for Christmas. Dan Castellaneta  better known as the voice of Homer Simpson - guests in show 42, T-Ball. The 2-Part Finale, The Wedding, finds the return of Katherine Helmond as Debra’s mother Lois.

Season 3: Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who’s the Boss) returns as Debra’s mom in two episodes: “The Visit” and “The Toaster.” Kevin James, who by this point has been spun off into his own series, The King of Queens, in three episodes (“The Lone Barone,” “Ray Home Alone,” and “Be Nice”), marking his final appearances on the show. Finally, eight of the 1969 New York Mets guest in midseason episode “Big Shots.”

Season 4: Robert Culp and Katharine Helmond reprise their roles as Debra’s parents in Episode 11 -- “The Christmas Picture” and Episode 16 -- “The Tenth Anniversary”. Ja’Net DuBois appears in episode 13, “Bully on the Bus”. Paul Reubens, who you may know better as Pee Wee Herman, appears in Episode 17, “Hackidu”. Show writer (and former host of Make the Grade on Nickelodeon) Lew Schneider appears in “The Christmas Picture”. (Bonus new addition to the list: Sherri Shepherd, one of The View’s new co-hosts, guests in the episode “Robert’s Rodeo” AND in “Confronting the Attacker”)

Season 5: There are only two guest stars to note in the fifth season of the show, Katherine Helmond (“Who’s the Boss?” & “Soap) and Robert Culp (“Greatest American Hero”), appearing as Debra’s parents in episodes 9 (Fighting In-Laws), and 23 (Separation). (Bonus new additions to the list: Sherri Shepherd, one of The View’s new co-hosts, guests in the episode “Let’s Fix Robert”. Also, the fans of “Mr. Show with Bob and David” will recognize Bob Odenkirk and Brian Posehn, who are in the episode “Net Worth").

Season 6: In addition to the now-expected appearances by Katherine Helmond and Robert Culp (both appear in “Older Women”, Katherine appears alone in “Call Me Mom”), there’s also an appearance by Sam Anderson (Gorpley from “Perfect Strangers”) in Lucky Suit plus Dan Castellaneta (from “The Simpsons”) in “It’s Supposed to be Fun”.

Season 7: (Newly re-written): The trio of Chris Elliott, Fred Willard, and Georgia Engel all make their debuts in their recurring role as Amy’s brother and parents (respectively). They all appear in the episodes “Just a Formality,” “Meeting the Parents,” “The Plan,” “The Bachelor Party,” and “Robert’s Wedding.” Georgia appears alone in “The Shower,” which also features new The View co-host Sherri Shepherd. Said episode also features Joel Brooks, who most of you would either know from his role on My Sister Sam, or his appearances as a celebrity on nearly every celebrity-based game show from the late 1980s. Sherri once again appears in “Robert’s Wedding.”

Season 8: In terms of special guests, first off is the trio of Chris Elliott, Georgia Engel, and Fred Willard, who guest as Amy’s brother and parents on a semi-recurring basis. The only other guest this season is Katherine Helmond, who reprises her role as Debra’s mother in The Surprise Party.

Season 9: In terms of guest stars, this season did not really have any. The only guests are the recurring ones -- the extended family featuring Debra’s mom and dad played by Katherine Helmond and Robert Culp, and Amy’s relatives played by Fred Willard, Georgia Engel, and Chris Elliott. The latter three especially shine in their roles.


Packaging:

The packaging for most complete series falls into either one of two categories -- all previous 9 individual sets shrink-wrapped together, or all 9 seasons inside a specially designed container, that usually takes some shape related to the show itself. Spin-off series King of Queens uses an IPS Delivery Truck. Fellow HBO show Six Feet Under uses a grave-like packaging, with the grass and grave marker on top and the rest of the box looking like dirt. The packaging for the Full House complete series set is that show’s iconic house.

HBO took a cue from Full House’ packaging on this one, as this set too is constructed like the Barone house. The set is constructed of a rather sturdy laminated thin cardboard -- if you ever buy any board games, it’s a sturdier version of the material used for those boxes. It is shaped like a house, with the windows and doors open. There are little raised-surface bushes and shrubs too. Ray peeks out the front door. Marie is looking out the window to his right. Marie, Frank, and Robert are behind the left window. The rear of the house is a solid wall, no windows or anything. The roof of the house is what you remove to get to the discs -- each one of the little windows extending from the roof has an ancillary cast member -- the left one has Amy, the right one has the kids. Removing the roof shows you the nine disc holders. The discs are not contained in the full packaging, but rather in little miniature disc booklet (commonly seen in music anthology sets) that are painted up the same as their respective season sets. Same colors and covers. Discs are the same. The difference is that on each page of the little mini booklet, below the discs, is a still photo, with a quote or two from the show on each page. The discs are held on a raised platform that matches the roof slope. As a result, seasons 3 and 8 are at the highest elevation, with 2, 4, 7, and 9 on a lower platform, and 1, 5, 6, and the script booklet on the lowest platform. I actually like these little booklets a great deal, and if studios wanted to a modified version of these for regular releases -- at least instead of Digipaks -- I would have no objections. They are a lot more convenient and a lot smaller -- plus you don’t have to worry about breaking disc holders.

Disc Breakdown is the exact same as the individual season sets:

For ALL sets except S9, Ray is on disc 1, Debra is on disc 2, Robert is on disc 3, Marie is on disc 4, and Frank is on disc 5. On season 9 ONLY, Frank and Marie share the final disc 4.

S1: Disc one has episodes 1-5, disc two has episodes 6-10, disc three has episodes 11-15, disc four has episodes 16-20 and disc five has episodes 21 & 22.

S2: Disc one has episodes 1-5, disc two has episodes 6-10, disc three has episodes 11-15, disc four has episodes 16-20 and disc five has episodes 21-25.

S3: Disc one has episodes 1-6, disc two has episodes 7-12, disc three has episodes 13-18, disc four has episodes 19-24 and disc five has episodes 25-26.

S4: Disc one has episodes 1-5, disc two has episodes 6-10, disc three has episodes 11-15, disc four has episodes 16-20 and disc five has episodes 21-24.

S5: Disc one has episodes 1-5, disc two has episodes 6-10, disc three has episodes 11-15, disc four has episodes 16-20 and disc five has episodes 21-25.

S6: Disc one has episodes 1-5, disc two has episodes 6-10, disc three has episodes 11-15, disc four has episodes 16-20 and disc five has episodes 21-24.

S7: Disc one has episodes 1-5, disc two has episodes 6-10, disc three has episodes 11-15, disc four has episodes 16-20 and disc five has episodes 21-25.

S8: Disc one has episodes 1-5, disc two has episodes 6-10, disc three has episodes 11-15, disc four has episodes 16-20 and disc five has episodes 21-24.

S9: Disc one has episodes 1-4, disc two has episodes 5-8, disc three has episodes 9-12, and disc four has episodes 13-16.


Menu Design and Navigation:

Obviously, each season reuses it's menus - these aren't new discs, so clearly no new menu. The main theme plays over each screen while clips play in a bar in the center. That menu's options, which may or may not include Play All depending on the season, appear as a text list in the middle of the middle of the menu. The colorscheme of each's season's menu is the same as the packaging color for each season. The menus for the initial seasons are full frame, while they're widescreen from season 4 onwards.


Video and Audio Quality:

Let us divide these episodes into two groups. Seasons 1-3 and Seasons 4-9. This is a VERY important division, as the first three seasons all aired in full frame (4:3), while the last six all aired in widescreen (16:9). The video on the first three seasons, aside from the loss of the picture on the sides due to being full frame, also thus suffers a bit more in terms of video faults. It looks perfectly fine for a show its age, but you will notice a difference, clearly, between 1-3 and 4-9. The pilot also must be taken separately from the rest of the first three seasons, as it was taped on cheaper stock than the rest of the series, as they wanted to save money in case the series did not sell. As a result, the picture looks a bit muddier, the colors off, and there are other defects. There is nothing really that HBO could have done here, and they certainly did the best they can. Audio also follows an identical pattern, with the pilot having the worst audio, then the rest of S1 through S3 having good audio, and the audio on seasons 4-9 being the best in terms of mix and sound quality. Chapter stops are appropriately placed at the conclusion of each scene. There are NO syndication cuts in this series set. Audio is available in English, Spanish, and French, as are subtitles. If you want to practice one of those languages, set the audio to one language and the subtitles in another, and pay attention.


Special Features:

If I try re-listing every special feature, we’ll be here all year. As such, I am only going to discuss in-depth the complete-series exclusive feature, in this case the autographed copy of the script.

The script: Uses a laminated booklet design extremely similar to the season booklets. The autographs were obviously printed onto the cover -- obviously, each copy was not hand-signed. I actually had someone pose that question to me at one point, so I thought I would mention that. The script is a nice read, and I can hear the episode playing out as I read it -- and can visualize it as well. It is nice to have, though it is not a total deal-breaker.

Now, let us run down previous features lists to round out what you’re getting. Please see previous reviews for more in-depth discussion of these features:

Season 1:
*Behind the Scenes Featurettes including interviews with the cast & crew
*The 1995 Late Show with David Letterman appearance by Ray Romano that inspired the series
*2 Optional Audio Commentaries with Ray Romano & series creator Phil Rosenthal

Season 2:
*Audio Commentary by Ray Romano and Phil Rosenthal on 2 Episodes
*Deleted Scenes Reel
*Blooper Reel

Season 3:
*Audio Commentary by Ray Romano and Phil Rosenthal on 2 Episodes
*Deleted Scenes Reel
*Blooper Reel
*Museum of Television and Radio panel discussion with ELR cast and creator Phil Rosenthal

Season 4:
*Four audio commentaries with series creator Phil Rosenthal, Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Patricia Heaton, and writers Lew Schneider and Aaron Shure
*Deleted Scenes
*Bloopers

Season 5:
*Three audio commentaries with Phil Rosenthal, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, and writer Tom Caltabiano.
*Deleted Scenes
*Bloopers

Season 6:
*Six audio commentaries with: Phil Rosenthal, Ray Romano, Doris Roberts, and writers Tucker Cawley, Mike Royce, Lew Schneider, and Steve Skrovan
*Deleted Scenes
*Bloopers
*"The First Six Years” retrospective

Season 7:
*4 audio commentaries with Phil Rosenthal, Ray Romano, Chris Elliott, Monica Horan, Anna Romano, Fred Willard, and writers Tucker Cawley and Mike Royce.
*Deleted Scenes
*Bloopers

Season 8:
* 8 Audio Commentaries with Ray Romano, Phil Rosenthal, Chris Elliot, Max Rosenthal, Albert Romano, Tom Caltabiano, Mike Royce, Aaron Shure, Tucker Cawley, Jeremy Stevens, Andy Kindler, Tom McGowan, and Richard Romano,
* Bloopers and Deleted Scenes
* Museum of Television and Radio Panel Discussion with Phil Rosenthal and writers

Season 9:
* 8 Audio Commentaries featuring Phil Rosenthal, Ray Romano, Tucker Cawley, Jeremy Stevens, Katherine Helmond, Robert Culp, Lew Schneider, Chris Elliott, Mike Royce, Aaron Shure, Steve Skrovan, plus Georgia Engel!
* Bloopers and Deleted Scenes
* The Last Laugh: Behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast members

Total Running Time of Above: Approx 1397 Minutes


Final Comments:

For quick reference, here are the reviews for the previous season set DVD releases:

Season 1 Review / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

This is the complete package for ANY Everybody Loves Raymond fan. It is all here -- every episode in high quality format, in a nicely designed package, ready for you to own. The price, especially compared to each individual season set taken solo, is also quite a bargain. If you already own all 9 seasons, unless you want the script booklet that badly, or the house packaging that badly, I really don’t know if I could justify owning this, though. There is just not that much else new or differentiating about this set.

HOWEVER -- as of this writing, Amazon is currently selling this set for HALF off -- check the link below for more. At THAT price level, you could probably sell off your previous season sets and be able to easily cover the new price -- and maybe even have a few dollars left over. In addition, you get much nicer packaging to store the DVDs in -- it is a solid buy, and I would strongly encourage you to go this route if you already own the set. Moreover, by using the convenient link at the bottom of this review, you also help to support Sitcoms Online and its efforts to provide you with the best in TV news and reviews.

That said, this is a great set, and I’m glad to now own it. If you do not already own the *entire* season on DVD, there’s really no reason not to pick this up or request it as a gift. The price point is VERY reasonable, and the content is worth the money, unless you bought the seasons individually. However, that is a personal judgment call. I can only say that I would be glad that I own this set, as it really is quite nice.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality (Seasons 1-3): 4/5
Video Quality (Seasons 4-9): 5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features (Set as a Whole): 5/5
Special Features (Complete Series-exclusive only): 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Final Score: 5/5

Seth Thrasher Seal of Approval

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 11/18/07

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000UR9TKK/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=213836


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